September Starbox Review

I’ve been receiving the Starbox monthly subscription from Starlooks for a few months now, and despite my initial hesitation (I pretty much bought the first subscription because it featured a band I like), I was super impressed with the makeup that arrived, and I’ve been pretty loyally using the makeup that arrives each month as I go along.

(For reference, my favorite thing to arrive so far has been the blush palette from August 2014’s box.  I use it probably 4 days a week in varying combinations.  The eyeshadow from July 2014 has also been excellent, though that’s more of a night-out thing for me.)

This month’s box contained four items:

September 2014 Starbox makeup subscription box

  • Kohl Eye Pencil in Oracle
  • Lip Pencil in Roseate
  • STARLOOKS Lashes
  • Single Shadow Compact in Tan Glow

Typically, my main focus for makeup is definitely around my eyes — I love having fun colors around my eyes, and I also like to give my eyes a little more definition — so I was very excited to see both an eyeliner and a shadow in this month’s box.  The first Starbox I received, the July 2014 box, had the eyeliner pencil and single shadow compact in different shades, which I use pretty consistently.

On the other hand, I’ve never used false lashes before, and lip pencils are a little confusing to me.  (If I do anything with my lips beyond a layer of lip balm, it’s normally sliding on a coat of lipstick before running to an event.)

Still, I was excited to check out everything in the box.  Individual reviews for each item below the jump!

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The Job by Jove Belle

From Goodreads:

FBI agent Sera Warren has been working undercover to track a domestic terrorist group to its origins. When her cover is blown, her priority shifts from closing her case to just making it through the day alive. She ends up in the middle of a bank heist, pointing a gun at her ex-girlfriend, Torrence “Tor” Jewel. She sees a flicker of recognition in Tor’s eyes as she pulls her gun and yells, “On the floor!”

Before Tor can fully register that “the one who got away” is standing in front of her, she’s pushed facedown onto the floor. Sera might as well shoot her now because as soon as she gets up, Tor’s going to kill her. Or kiss her. She’s still undecided.

First, they have to survive their reunion, then they can worry about happily ever after.

When I found this title on NetGalley, I was a little hesitant despite how intrigued I was by the summary.  Romance isn’t typically up my alley, and neither are thrillers.  Intrigue won out, though, and here we are now.

I definitely didn’t regret it.  The style is straightforward and fun, and the pacing feels great for a thriller.  The book starts in the middle of action, no setup, and Sera’s immediately thrust into a dangerous adventure largely involving her cover being totally, completely blown.

Sera’s voice was one of my favorite things about the book, though it’s told from both Sera and Tor’s perspectives.  Sera is very, very funny.  I love how she thinks of things, I love how she talks — especially to Marcus, the leader of the group robbing the bank — and I love the way she thinks and talks about Tor, who is obviously incredibly important to her even 10 years after their relationship dissolved.

The romance aspect of the book was pretty satisfying, as well.  I’m a huge sucker for childhood friend-style love stories, and while Sera and Tor aren’t quite childhood friend-level, their college sweetheart story really gets me where it counts.  The book has flashbacks to their time together during college, and seeing the two of them during their younger days and comparing it to the women they’ve become is fun and very sweet, since their early relationship has a good balance of awkward and innocent and fun.

That being said, there wasn’t much that really stuck out about this book for me.  It was a fun adventure and an exciting ride, but not particularly innovative — just pure entertainment.  Recommended more for the thriller aspect than the romance aspect – there’s lots of shooting and a bit of bank robbery-related gore.

3.5 out of 5 stars

ARC received via NetGalley.

Flash Review, Issue #005

Here are a few short reviews of books I’ve read in the past month.

The Screaming Divas by Suzanne Kamata

Provided by the publisher for review. Find Suzanne’s interview at Girls in Capes.

When I started this book, I was expecting something more along the lines of a book about a band, with a lot of practicing and concerts, but the book ended up reading more like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants except with a punk band instead of magic jeans.

Originally, I’d set this book aside because the first chapter didn’t hook me, but I’m glad I ended up following through, because as it turns out, the character (Trudy) whose point of view is shown in the first chapter is the least interesting and relatable.  I enjoyed each of the other three girls’ plotlines, especially Esther’s, and I found some of my own life experiences reflected in Harumi.  Cassie was my favorite of the girls, though I didn’t quite like the progression of her plot.

The Screaming Divas was a fascinating read after that initial bump, but the strange change of pace towards the end and the overall plot wasn’t really for me.  However, the book has fascinating diversity and represents each character in what I find to be a very fair way.

3 out of 5 stars

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Purchased for the Girls in Capes book club.

Octavia Butler’s been on my list a long time, and KINDRED was an incredible introduction to this prolific science fiction author.  Following a woman as she gets yanked back and forth in time between the present day (1976) and the antebellum South, the novel is harsh and emotionally difficult in the best kind of way.

Its emotional difficulty will turn many readers off, but this book is an important one to read, especially for those interested in history.  Despite its genre, KINDRED is an obviously well-researched and deeply thoughtful read.

5 out of 5 stars

Tonight’s talk on Strong Female Characters at Bedford Library

I’m rolling through Michigan tonight!  You can visit Bedford Library at 6 p.m. for a talk on Strong Female Characters in books for teens.  Here’s the official description from the Monroe County Library System’s website:

Ever notice that readers who talk about “strong female characters” only seem interested in girls who use physical strength? There are plenty of ways for girls (and boys) to be strong without using their fists – and THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL’s Agatha, BORN WICKED’s Cate, and FANGIRL’s Cath are all strong female characters who become strong in a totally different way. Come see this special presentation by girlsincapes.com founder and editor, Feliza Casano. There will be pizza!

The presentation is expected to run for about 30, and I’ll also have a few things to give away.  This is open for all ages, but I would recommend the talk for ages 14 to 18.

If you’re a student at Toledo Early College High School, check out the description on the TECHS Cultural Events blog.

You can learn more about Girls in Capes at the main website, or you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

My most anticipated Fall 2014/Winter 2015 continuing series (Orbit Books)

One of my favorite publishers is Orbit Books.  That’s kind of a difficult thing to say, since there are tons of publishers that put out books I adore — Firebird, Penguin’s SPEAK imprint, Quirk Books, Dark Horse, and First Second all come to mind – but most books I’ve read from Orbit US have been right up my alley — this year alone, there was the conclusion of Rachel Bach’s Paradox trilogy and M. R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts.

Most of the books from Orbit are ones I review for Girls in Capes, but not all of them are right for the site, so my reviews don’t always get posted there.  However, there are quite a few titles due out this year that I’m really looking forward to checking out.

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Summer Anime 2014: Mid-Season Update

The summer anime season is partway through, and I thought I’d list some changes I’ve made to my Summer 2014 viewing list.  (You can find the original here.)

What I’ve been watching from that list: Sailor Moon Crystal, Aldnoah Zero, Sword Art Online II, and Haikyuu!.

After watching two episodes of GLASSLIP, my boyfriend and I decided it was too confusing (and too boring) to continue.  The plot was confusing and vague, and we weren’t actually sure what was supposed to be going on in the series.  As it turns out, we aren’t the only ones, because a friend mentioned the following week that she’d dropped the series as well because she thought it was just uninteresting.  In my previous post, I mentioned Ao Haru Ride (English title Blue Spring Ride), but I haven’t actually started that series yet…

The most change, though, comes in the simulcast series I’ve added since then.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. Anime image from Crunchyroll.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. Anime image from Crunchyroll.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun.  This is definitely the best addition to my currently-watching list.  Listed in English as Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, this series is about a girl named Chiyo who confesses to her crush Nozaki-kun, telling him she’s his fan, only for him to respond by giving her an autograph.  As it turns out, he’s actually a mangaka — a shoujo mangaka who’s pretty widely reknown for having insight into the hearts of young girls.  Except Nozaki-kun is pretty dense about Chiyo’s feelings for him.

So far, I’ve loved this show SO MUCH.  Every episode has me actually laughing out loud, which is pretty rare for me.  Almost every character represents a major anime trope, but the show is very self-aware, and Nozaki-kun and Chiyo both observe different characters acting like manga characters.  The plot doesn’t seem to have a specific goal in mind — it’s based on a 4-koma — but it’s incredibly enjoyable so far, and I’ve watched a number of episodes multiple times and had an excellent time with every re-watch.

Love Stage!!.  Conversely, Love Stage!! is kind of a terrible anime.  Based on a BL manga of the same name, Love Stage!! is about an 18-year-old guy who’s the second son in a family of entertainers who is a bit traumatized by being forced to dress as a girl for a commercial during childhood.  As it turns out, the boy who was in the commercial with him remained in the entertainment world, and when their paths cross again, the guy falls for him and decides it doesn’t matter if he’s not a girl.

Almost everything about this show is not to my preference.  First off, I’m not much of a BL (Boys’ Love) manga/anime type of person, and the art style is just a little off from what I’d typically enjoy – there are some things that just look weird to my eyes.  But like Nozaki-kun, Love Stage!! is pretty self-aware — the protagonist bursts out at one point yelling “AM I THE UKE?!” — and it’s weirdly difficult to stop watching.  I’ll probably finish it out, since I’m through 6 out of 10 episodes.

Persona 4: The Golden Animation.  P4GA is pretty low on my priority list.  I’m watching with my boyfriend, who was a huge Persona 3 fan when he played the game.  This one feels casual to watch, and I’m not that emotionally invested, but the art is lovely and I’m at least interested in finding out where it’s all going in the end.

Rail Wars!.  I started Rail Wars! because I saw it on Crunchyroll while browsing for a show to watch with my brother.  While we ended up settling on Love Stage!! instead, Rail Wars! stayed in the back of my mind, because I had no idea how a show about teenagers who want to work for a rail line would be interesting.

Let me just say that it’s actually SUPER interesting.  It’s also not at all what you think it might be.  Yes, the four characters in Rail Wars! want to work on a rail line — all of them with different exact goals, like the protagonist’s goal of becoming a train engineer — but for now, they’re stuck in Railway Security, and they get into all sorts of shenanigans.  Definitely worth checking out the first couple episodes.

Akame ga Kill.  I’ll admit I binged six episodes of this last night after seeing this post from Crunchyroll.  Without context, I just looked at the picture, thought “Whoa, so badass,” and found the show about 45 minutes later.

My knowledge of the show was pretty limited — all I knew was that in involved swords and cute girls, which is pretty vague as anime descriptions go — but it’s definitely worthwhile, something like a mix between Attack on Titan, Madoka*Magica, and Fullmetal Alchemist.  It’s an anime about assassins, but telling you much more will definitely spoil some surprises.  If you’re on the squeamish side, this show may not be for you, since the cartoon violence is pretty intense (though not to Psycho-Pass/Tokyo Ghoul levels) and because IT’S A SHOW ABOUT ASSASSINATIONS.

Anyway.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season will bring.  What have you dropped or picked up mid-season?